Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prithwi Singh and his friends used to meet at Indian Silk House to discuss the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo

Prithwi Singh Nahar
By Anurag Banerjee

The year 1924 also brought Prithwi Singh to the works of Sri Aurobindo, the Illumined Master who was to be his Guru and whom he was destined to meet nine years later. Though Prithwi Singh was aware of Sri Aurobindo’s evolutionary philosophy, courtesy the Arya—Sri Aurobindo’s monthly review published from 1914 to 1921— of which he was an avid reader, yet, he never thought of practising at that time the Integral Yoga developed by Sri Aurobindo. He had a particular group of friends—Rishabhchand Samsukha,[11] Parichand Kothari,[12] Umirchand Kothari, Anil Kumar Bhattacharya[13]all of them joined Sri Aurobindo Ashram later—who used to meet at “Indian Silk House”(a sari shop started by Rishabhchand) where they discussed the yoga and philosophy of Sri Aurobindo. Nirmal Singh remembers:

“‘Indian Silk House’ was a partnership concern between Rishabhchand and Parichand. And that was in the early Brahmo Samaj office in Cornwallis Street—the annexe. The front portion was the shop and inside there was a sitting room. Even my grandfather had gone there. I had gone with them. Dilip-da [Dilip Kumar Roy] and others used to send books and other things from Pondicherry. That was the centre. Father used to collect the books from there.” [...]

In December 1929, Prithwi Singh shifted to Shantiniketan with his family. He knew the significance of freedom in the development of the character and personality of a person as he himself was a victim of the “narrow limits of his community” when nine years earlier, he was refused the permission to go to Oxford and study. So he wanted the progress of his children not to be hindered by such narrowness. [...]

In 1933, Prithwi Singh went on a pilgrimage to South India with a servant named Firengi whose father Baidyanath had served Puran Chand. On his way back from Rameshwaram, he halted at Pondicherry in November. At that time, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother gave Darshans only thrice a year: 21 February (the Mother’s birthday), 15 August (Sri Aurobindo’s birthday) and 24 November (Sri Aurobindo’s Siddhi Day). Prithwi Singh had read the major works of Sri Aurobindo that were published serially in the Arya and since it was the month of the Darshan, the opportunity to stand in front of Sri Aurobindo (although for a few minutes or so) was something no one wanted to lose.

Nor did Prithwi Singh. He had his first Darshan of Sri Aurobindo with the Mother sitting on his right on 24 November. He made his obeisance to them and received the divine touch of the dual-Avatars on his head. After the Darshan, he realized that his search for his Guru had come to an end. In Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, he found the Guides he was seeking. His mind, which knew no peace following the demise of his wife, found EVERYTHING in them. He made up his mind to settle at Pondicherry permanently. [...]

As mentioned earlier, the first work assigned to Prithwi Singh was the task of re-organizing the Ashram Library. This led him to start the Publication Department as he wanted the whole world to receive the priceless treasure bequeathed by Sri Aurobindo through his literary works. The best source of knowledge regarding Prithwi Singh’s contribution towards the Publication Department is an extremely informative article titled Prithwi Singh and the Publication Department penned by his daughter Sumitra Nahar. The Mother’s Lasso

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